Palace shrugs off China 'warning' on disputed shoal

Posted at 03/18/14 6:12 PM

MANILA - Malacanang is unperturbed by reports that China has warned the Philippines against escalating tension at the disputed Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.

Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma on Tuesday said the government reiterates that the shoal, internationally called the Second Thomas Shoal, is part of the Philippines' continental shelf which the Philippines has sovereign rights and jurisdiction.

"Iyan po ang malinaw na posisyon ng ating pamahalaan. Lahat naman po ng pagkilos natin diyan ay ayon sa international law at in accordance with our policy of pursuing only peaceful and diplomatic means to resolve the disputes on territorial claims,"he said

The BRP Sierra Madre, a commissioned Philippine naval vessel, was placed at the Shoal in 1999 to serve as a permanent Philippine government installation in response to China's occupation of Mischief Reef in 1995.

This was prior to the signing of the Declaration of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea in 2002.

China on Monday told the Philippines to abandon the disputed shoal after Manila said it planned to challenge a Chinese naval blockade of the area by sending supplies to its troops stationed there.

"The Chinese government's attitude on maintaining the country's sovereignty and territorial integrity is unwavering. We will never tolerate the Philippines illegal occupation of Ren'ai reef," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a daily news briefing.

"China is on high alert for the Philippines possibly taking more provocative acts in the South China Sea. The Philippines must accept responsibility for the consequences of what will happen," he claimed. - with Reuters